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Scott Martlew finished fourth in the men’s KL2 200m kayak final at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Kiwi kayaker Scott Martlew missed a medal in the men’s 200m KL2 final at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The fastest in the heats, Martlew finished fourth on Friday with a time of 42.880 seconds on the Sea Forest waterway, where New Zealand has been so successful at the recent Olympics.
New Zealand-born Australian paddler Curtis McGrath, who set a Paralympic best time of 41.134 in Friday’s semi-finals, defended his gold medal at the Rio 2016 Games.
McGrath dominated the final with a classy performance, winning in 41.426 seconds over second-placed Ukrainian Mykola Syniuk with third-placed Italian Federico Mancarella.
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Christchurch paddler Martlew wasn’t able to make the same kind of start he did in the heats with McGrath flying away. Halfway through the race, he slipped from the leading pack, leaving him in contention for bronze.
Martlew automatically qualified for the A final after setting the fastest qualifying time on Thursday (43.588 seconds).
Five years ago, Martlew even exceeded his own expectations at the 2016 Paralympic Games, qualifying for the men’s final at KL3, where he finished eighth.
Considering he was called up late to the Paralympic Games after the Russian doping scandal ruled out several contestants, Martlew was delighted to advance to the final in Rio.
In 2018, he was reclassified in the KL2 class, involving a more severe level of handicap, where he achieved satisfactory results and fights against similar athletes.
He won silver in the KL2 200m at the sprint canoe world championships in Portugal in 2018. The following year he won bronze in the same event in Szeged, Hungary – his last international regatta due to the Covid pandemic -19.
Martlew lost his left leg in 2010 after sustaining an abnormal injury during a First XV rugby match after an accidental head butt to the thigh. Four days later, he was in the hospital fighting for his life in a man-made coma with necrotizing fasciitis (a rare fatal bacterial infection) taking hold of his leg and part of his buttock.
Having dreamed of representing New Zealand at the Olympics in a kayak before her accident, competing in the Paralympics was a great thrill.
Martlew also races in the VL3 200m canoe, va’a (single outrigger) in Tokyo, which is making his first Paralympic Games appearance.
Meanwhile, fellow Kiwi paddler Corbin Hart placed fifth in the men’s KL3 B 200m final.
Hart missed the A-final, finishing fifth in the second semi-final.
Australian Dylan Littlehales won the second heat with Hart fifth in 42.290 seconds, 2.056 seconds off Littlehale’s time of 40.234 seconds.
Spaniard Juan Antonio Valle finished second, while German Tom Kierey finished third in the second set. It was a close battle for third place between Hart, Kierey and Irishman Patrick O’Leary, but the powerful finish from the German paddler helped him progress.
Hart enjoyed a rapid rise in the sport after first sitting in a kayak late last year.
He qualified a New Zealand boat in the KL3 200m for the Paralympic Games in May, competing in his first international regatta in Hungary.
Hart was seventh in the A final at the ICF Canoe / Kayak Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup.
His journey to the Paralympic Games was inspiring after losing his right leg in a work accident in December 2019.
The 27-year-old man, a public works supervisor, was cleaning a road machine during packing when his foot slipped into a hole and his leg entered the machine.